While Rivers State prides itself as the Treasure Base of Nigeria, Etche Local Government Area happens to be the food basket of the State. Interestingly, Umuechem in Etche is blessed immensely with viable oil wells, water bodies from which all types of sand are dredged as well as vast lands with rich soils for farming.
Umuechem had been in the news decades ago for the crisis the inhabitants had with Shell Petroleum Developing Company, a petroleum multinational company. The crisis was said to have led to the loss of lives and property. Over the years, relative peace has been restored to the community.
Unfortunately, in recent times, many farmers in Umuechem have abandoned their farmlands owing to the alleged destruction of their farmlands by Herdsmen. A middle-aged woman from Umuechem lamented that she has had to abandon her ancestral farmlands since 2022 because of the destruction of her crops by cattle that are made to graze in her farm to eat up her crops.
Upon being asked why the community haven’t fought off the herders, she said that such attempts had resulted in bloody confrontations between local farmers and the herders. She said she’ll rather look for farms to lease from locals whose lands are relatively safer due to their proximity to the residential areas.
Another farmer who gave his name as Uche said he abandoned crop farming in Etche due to the same destruction of his farm by Fulani Herdsmen. In his case, he isn’t an indigene of Etche, but an investor. He acquired land for crop farming but lost all to the grazing of cattle by the herdsmen. Asked why he didn’t report to the police, he said he did. He said he even paid money to security operatives to arrest the herders but that nothing came out of it. He then had to abandon crop farming for animal husbandry.
While the Federal Government keeps encouraging people to venture into farming, It appears that the Umuechem farmers have accepted this unfortunate destruction of their farms as “one of those things”.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in their 2014 manifesto, promised to devolve more powers to the federating units, one of the ways to do this was to ensure that every state of the federation has a State Police that would be sensitive to issues of security as it affects the inhabitants of each state.
With State policing, it would have been easier to curtail the excesses of the herdsmen. The current Nigerian Police are not as sensitive to local security issues as they should be because the top police hierarchy is much more loyal to the interests of the president who appointed them.
Going forward, Nigerians should demand for the establishment of State and even Local Government policing where the police hierarchy will be loyal to the security needs of the inhabitants in each state as well as in the Local Government Areas of each state of the federation.
SOURCE/ IMAGE: ioiNews